Katherine Jenkins says she will perform at the king’s coronation while calling the ‘engaged’ Charles ‘brilliant’.
SHE is Britain’s most famous opera singer.
Now Katherine Jenkins is adding another string to her bow – gin making.
The Welsh mezzo-soprano is launching her own range of quality spirits after spending the past 18 months secretly visiting distilleries and experimenting with botanicals.
So tacit was her latest venture, not even Katherine’s beloved mother was aware of it before launching.
Katherine smiles over a pre-launch lunch: “It was a truly amazing creative experience – I come from a family of gin drinkers and this was really a passion project.
“Absolutely no one outside of my team knows – not even my mum as I knew she would tell the aunts and they would start spreading it around the village and then the secret would be out – so it’s amazing finally talking about it.
“I’m not here on a crusade to change the world, but I wanted to create a product that is for women, appeals to women, is mostly made by women and makes them feel heard.
“I have great respect for all the great women entrepreneurs who are leading the way and working towards a better, fairer and more sustainable future for all of us.”
“Whatever we do, we should support the sisterhood and lift each other up. That’s how I was raised and that’s so important to me.”
Cygnet Welsh Dry Gin (and its purer, more expensive brother Cygnet 22) is an “ultra premium gin created by women for women”. It’s made at a distillery six miles down the road where Katherine grew up.
The botanicals are – according to a very official-looking press release – an “eclectic blend of flavors including almond, angelica root, chamomile flower, cardamom seed, coriander seed, sweet orange peel, orris root and pink grapefruit peel”.
“I also wanted to add manuka honey as I’ve always eaten it to help my voice,” she adds, sipping heavily from a substantial glass of gin.
Yes, it is also the first gin on the market that can be drunk without a mixer.
Lunch at an elegant central London restaurant makes me feel part Mad Men’s Don Draper and part Oliver Reed. Still, oddly enough, it’s quite refreshing.
“When I’m not getting ready for a show, I like to have a gin after the kids have gone to bed,” she grins.
“I really love it. While I’m not saying it’s any better for your body than say the purest Welsh water, Cygnet is certainly fantastic for your mind and is truly made from the highest quality ingredients.
Having almost hit the threshold of my gin chat, like Katherine, we finally branch out.
After studying at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music, Katherine worked briefly as a music teacher (and as a tour guide for the London Eye) before getting her big break in 2003.
A performance at Westminster Cathedral in honor of Pope Jean Paul II’s Silver Jubilee led to a six-album record deal with Universal Classics.
A string of crossover hits followed, and she quickly became an opera icon.
For a while, she was just as likely to belt out the Welsh national anthem in front of 60,000 fans at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium as she was to rub shoulders with the Spice Girls and Take That at the Brit Awards.
In a world of fabricated, candy pop acts, she was a breath of fresh air – loved by grandmothers as much as she was respected by her contemporaries.
In 2014 she was awarded an OBE by the then Prince Charles.
In recent years she has appeared on various Royal Variety Shows and has developed friendships with at least three members of the royal family: William, Harry and the new king himself.
In November, she joined Prince William at the TUSK Conservation Awards – sustainability and environmental protection are two causes close to her heart.
She also performed the first-ever rendition of God Save The King – one of the most “surreal” experiences of her 20-year career.
Like so many of us, Katherine – who had performed in front of just 12 people in front of the late Queen – was devastated by the monarch’s death last September.
Katherine, an ardent royalist, recalls: “I was in a tiny, rural church in central Sussex to record a hymn marking the Queen’s death.
“My PA suddenly got a call that the BBC wanted me to record the first version of God Save The King and asked if I could do that within an hour.
“It was the morning after the Queen’s death. I could have been anywhere – on the plane, in bed, whatever, but I’m literally standing in a church with four mics in front of me.
“I thought ‘ok, that’s how it’s supposed to be.’ We all stopped what we were doing, said a little prayer because the queen just passed by and I think I almost felt a little bit disloyal. So we had a moment.
“Then I had to figure out singing the anthem with the new words, and somehow we did it in one take and sent it in – even though there was hardly any reception, which in itself was a bit of a miracle.
“I mean, of course I didn’t get any feedback from the king, but of course it was a great honor.”
So would she perform at the coronation on May 6th? “Absolutely!”
And how does she think Charles will progress?
“He’ll be a brilliant king,” she says, manically sipping another gin. “I saw him at the British Forces Foundation and how passionate he is about the military. He just seems engaged and informed.
“I also think he is way ahead of his time with all the organic and environmental initiatives and I have a lot of respect for that.
“He’s also raised kids who are very passionate about conservation, so yeah, I just really like him.”
Katherine, married to American filmmaker Andrew Levitas with whom she has two children, Aaliyah, seven, and Xander, four, works relentlessly.
On the day of our interview, she flew in overnight from Los Angeles, having spent the night in New York.
She lets me drive five hours to Wales to shoot a bit for the coronation.
But all these journeys come at a price – and not just their exhaustion.
A passionate environmentalist – she’s also an ambassador for the Prince of Wales’s conservation organization – she says she offsets all of her travel.
While that doesn’t mean Katherine is out in the New Forest determined to plant trees, she does give a small fortune to climate protection organizations every year.
Their gin bottles are also “50% lighter than other spirits bottles, so the carbon footprint is reduced”.
She’s also hired someone to advise her on sustainability, and her gin bottle is ingeniously designed to be reused as a vase.
Katherine — who doesn’t speak 24 hours before a concert to make sure her voice is in tip-top shape for each show (“My kids really like it, it’s like a giant game of charades”) — adds, “I try and train mine.” children responsibly.
“I tell them what things are made of, teach them the importance of recycling, and we recently got back from a conservation safari.
“I love being a mom, but as all working moms know, it’s always a juggle.
“I have an amazingly supportive husband who has officially backed me on this latest project and my mum and dad are both keen to come and help.
“But as any working mother will attest, it’s not easy – and it really does take a whole village. But right now I’m loving life and trying something new.”
Cygnet Welsh Dry Gin and Cynet 22 are available for pre-order on Friday 31st March from Cygnet’s website www.cygnet-distillery.com at an RRP of £35.00 and £47.50 respectively.
https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/10459696/katherine-jenkins-perform-coronation-king-charles/ Katherine Jenkins says she will perform at the king’s coronation while calling the ‘engaged’ Charles ‘brilliant’.